Beauty On The Beast!

Beauty On The Beast!

The TrippinBrehenys are proud to present a guest blog by Kathleen Fellows as she and her family start planning for a motorcycle trip across the United States.

Parenting multiples, being a wife and a mother. Confronting my anger, grief and my weight loss journey. Starting a baking business and hiking in Scotland.

All of these are subjects of blogs I have written or am currently working on. Why would I want to take on another blog?

I write about what I’m living through. I write for myself and publish it, hoping I will reach or entertain someone along the way. If no one reads it, I have a written record for myself and my family. So, what am I living through?

I am turning 50 and preparing to embark on a cross country motorcycle trip. Both of these are new to me. I’ve been in training for one my whole life; the other, just two years.

After several life-altering events (the subjects of some of my other blogs) I have a fresh excitement for life and trying new things. My latest obsession is hiking and backpacking. At the same time, my husband is embracing a return to motorcycling. He wants me to join him but I hate his Suzuki. I want him to get a Harley but he wants to go fast in the turns. Unbeknownst to me, Matt started searching for a bike for me. I am 5 foot 2 inches short. I already know the perfect bike for my stature and build – a Harley Davidson Sportster. He had me sit on several bikes, having high hopes for a Triumph. I sat there with my legs dangling and reiterated that there is only one bike built for me and I for it. (This was all conjecture anyway. We could not afford a Harley and I was not convinced that I could control such a powerful beast.)

It was a cold and gloomy day in January when Matt asked me to go with him to a used bike dealer.
“I found the perfect bike for you.”
*eyes rolling like I’ve been possessed by a surly teenager* “Sure.”

There it was; a nondescript black 1998 Sportster 883. It wasn’t pretty but it ran. I sat on it. I turned the key in the ignition; and pressed the start button.

Both the bike and I were sold. (I hate it when he’s right!)

Matt spent the next month going over the entire bike, making sure it was safe and running soundly. I got my permit and riding gear, and he taught me to ride; first in parking lots, then on neighborhood streets. I dropped the bike a couple of times. I even crashed coming out of the driveway, requiring Matt to replace the handlebars. Bit by bit I learned from my mistakes. I gained confidence and tried to go riding at least once a week.

Our First Trip:

Four months into my training we took a road trip for our 25th anniversary. 150 miles to a cabin near the McKenzie River. I struggled as we rode in full gear in triple-digit temperatures. After 35 miles I just wanted to go home, but we rested, hydrated, and continued the trip. The weather cooled and the scenery was amazing. We ran into a little light rain. A welcome friend!

That trip was just the beginning. We spent our days riding winding roads through lush forests. Upon our return, I was ready to get my motorcycle certification and start riding without my guardian angel. Not that I didn’t enjoy his company. I just wanted to be able to ride when the mood hit and not have to wait for someone else to be free.

At the end of my first season, we had some repair work done on my bike. That’s when we learned that it had previously been converted from an 883 to a 1250. I don’t quite understand the logistics but simply put, my bike can go really fast. The person who did the conversion left the original labeling on the tank. Since it was apart already, this was a perfect opportunity to customize the bike to my taste.

Unable to find riding gear in my preferred shade of green, I wound up with a purple riding jacket and gloves. This led to the obvious choice to paint my bike purple, but what shade? I searched online for purple vehicles, reaching back to my early childhood. I found a beautiful 1970 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy. It was perfect for me. The shade and the name!

The next season began with me on my pretty purple bike and we took our next anniversary bike trip. This time we rode around the Olympic Peninsula, visiting 7 waterfalls and riding over 730 miles in 5 days. I learned about enjoying the ride as we got lost several times. There was wildlife coming at us from overhead and on the road. I learned a lot about defensive driving and being prepared for weather differences, running into rain and much cooler temps riding along the coast. There is a lesson in every ride.

After this trip, I went on vacation with my sister who had just bought a cabin near Lake Michigan. Thus began the planning ahead for the next anniversary trip. We would ride from Oregon to Michigan and back; a real road trip.

Before I had my driver’s license I had a romantic image in my head about road trips. It sounded so carefree.

I was slightly delusional.

As a mom to 6 children, road trips had become our go-to way to travel. It was less about the journey and more about reaching a destination. I wanted to take a road trip where we could enjoy the ride and the places. A visit to my sister’s cabin sounded ideal, but it would take some serious planning.

When will we travel? Which roads will we take? Where will we stop? How far will we travel each day? What will we buy versus bringing with?

Every question answered just spawns more questions. What have I gotten myself into?